(UPDATED) USDA to Mayhew, DHHS: $4.8M SNAP Overpayment Cannot Be Recouped From Affected 70k Maine Families
Oh dear; here we go again! From a press release via Rep. Pingree’s office this morning:
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said today that federal officials have informed the Maine Department of Health and Human Services that 70,000 Maine families should not be required to repay approximately $80 in SNAP (food stamp) benefits that the state erroneously handed out over the course of several months.
“We heard from dozens of food stamp beneficiaries who suddenly, out of the blue, were informed that they owed the state $80. For people struggling to put food on the table, that represents a big hit to their budget,” Pingree said. “These families didn’t do anything wrong, the overpayment was due to an administrative mistake, and there was no way they could have possibly known they were getting a few dollars more a month than they should have.”
The error, according to federal officials, came when state officials failed to follow federal guidelines in applying the “Standard Utility Allowance”— the estimate of a household’s utility costs used when calculating the need for food stamp benefits.
Federal officials also expressly prohibited the state from trying to collect the overpayment from Maine SNAP beneficiaries. Maine law as reported in the Bangor Daily News, back in July, states that DHHS, which administers the program, was prohibited from reducing benefits until a formal rule change in the program was made.
One wonders how many times the LePage administration, Mayhew and DHHS have messed up their numbers- it seems to happen on a fairly frequent basis. It’s hard to not agree with this opinion piece from last March, making the case for Mayhew’s firing- certainly she has not helped build a rebuttal case for retention.
Suffice to say, we will see much more of this sort of mismanagement in the year to come, now that the waiting is over, SCOTUS has upheld Obamacare and Maine is now asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to force the Obama Administration to allow the state to reduce the amount it spends on Medicaid.
The letter from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, addressed to Maine DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew, can be seen below.